I have a request for all of my adventurous, outdoorsy friends. If you’re still getting out in the mountains during these times, please stop posting about it.
There are lots of reasons people are taking to the outdoors right now. Elle Woods puts it best: “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t shoot their husbands. No matter how long they’ve been social distancing.” Or something like that. Many of my friends are processing a lot: social distancing while living alone, social distancing while living in tight quarters or less than ideal roommates, navigating job loss, or dealing with the stress of being a front lines healthcare or retail worker. Some are in less-affected areas where regulations are still lax. Or for a few of you lucky bastards, you’ve got amazing recreational options that are literally your backyard.
But these decisions to get outside come with considerations like “how crowded is too crowded?” “How far does ‘local’ or ‘within my community’ span?” “How mellow does it have to be not to risk the deployment of SAR or diversion of medical resources?” “What if I don’t stop or touch anything or see anyone?” “What if I’m well and feel fine?” Without official regulations, these are all answers that we’ll have to decide for ourselves.
But if we’ve learned anything in our AIARE classes, it’s that there are some human factors that sometimes get in the way of making good, safe, healthy choices. I think the same concerns about social facilitation still apply here. We need to create the right social signals to encourage conservative choices, and every post is a positive signal that these things and these places are fine – no matter how many disclaimers we add about living at the foot of the resort or not making stops on the way to and from. No one reads you’re “sorry you don’t live here, so it’s only okay for me to do this” note. They just see that we’re all still doing this now.
I do think access is important. I’m personally living my best socially distanced life, but I know that it’s because I’m dripping in privilege. I have a fantastic QuarenTeammate and fulfilling social interaction. But I also have a quiet guest-room-turned-home-office where I can get some alone time, work productively, and take conference calls uninterrupted. I’m getting more time to work out, cook healthy meals, and do some home improvement projects without wasting time on frivolous things like commuting or makeup or super frequent showers. But other people aren’t so lucky and home is uncomfortable and sometimes even unsafe. I hope the outdoors can still be sanctuary when people need it.
But staying home is a lot easier when it feels like we’re all in this together.